Cy Young Bowling Lanes got to mingle in the world of professional bowling when Professional Bowling Association (PBA) tour member Todd Book visited the lanes and practiced up his game before heading back on the circuit.
Book, who was scheduled to bowl in ESPN televised tournaments in Connecticut and New York before heading for the U.S. Open in New Jersey, was visiting his aunt, Patricia Sharkey, who resides in Newcomerstown.
This has been Book's second season on the pro tour. He has bowled a whopping 96 career 300 games since 1994 with a high sanctioned series of 846. Book showed early promise in his career at the age of 21 but elected not to turn professional. He instead bowled as an amateur in related tournaments. He eventually got out of competition for 10 years, but then got back into the mix in July 2005. He earned a shot on the tour by leading the 2007 PBA Tour Trials, which gave him an exemption status for the season. He regained his exemption status for 2008-09 by finishing 29th in the 2007-08 PBA World Point Rankings. For his efforts, Book was honored with second place in the PBA Rookie of the Year voting for that year. He is now trying to keep the momentum going and qualify for the 2009-10 campaign, as his current status is 40th place and must improve to 36th.
When asked how the Cy Young Lanes of Newcomerstown with its eight lanes compared to the many big league bowling alleys he has been on, Book replied, "Actually, I'd rather be in this kind of atmosphere. These kinds of lanes are more homey and friendly. You can't duplicate that in those mega lane facilities, which have anywhere from 40-72 lanes in them."
Book has the unique talent of being able to bowl either right or left handed, which has served him well as he can change hands to be more conducive to whatever the lane conditions are.
"I actually got into a fight while playing football when I was 11 years old and broke a finger. That forced me to use my left hand for a year and I got pretty good with it. That helped me in baseball also. I was a switch pitcher, believe it or not, and could throw an 85 MPH fastball with either hand.
The Wapakoneta, Ohio, native bowled six games the day of his visit, coming up with 61 strikes out of the 72 throws he made. His high game was 279, which he nailed twice. He also did a few trick shots for the crowd, including sending a ball into one lane that bounced over into the other.
Book uses a 15-pound ball instead of 16 because as he notes, "As strong as bowling balls are today, you actually need some deflection that a lighter ball offers. I just found that 15-pounds works better for me."
He hauls around three pair of shoes and 49 bowling balls from which he can choose to best match lane conditions.
"Bowling alleys can be a lot like tennis courts, where you have clay, grass, or artificial surfaces that play better with different equipment and shoes. Having a variety gives me the option after I've warmed up a little bit to adjust what I'm feeling and seeing on the lanes."
Book's most memorable tournament was the 2005 Super Hoinke Classic in Cincinnati.
"I won first place and $50,000, so it's hard not to put that one at the top", Book said. The match-play format came to an end with the big payday when Book won his 17th match for the top prize.
With a constant strain on his muscles and tendon's, Book is not immune to the occasional effects of carpel tunnel syndrome. He bowls on average 20 games a day and 110 per week to stay on top of his game.
"My wrist occasionally goes numb but I've never had shoulder trouble", Book noted.
Just like how Tiger Woods needed to overhaul his swing at one time and make constant adjustments, Book also had to recently tune-up his game. That included having a bowling pro, Eddie Graham of E.G. Pro Shop in Dayton, analyze the mechanics of his grip and throw.
"We ended up changing the pitches of the fingers and distance between the holes. It really got my game back on track, as it was starting to slip a little."
Book has several sponsors to his credit, including E-Tonic Shoes, Vice Grips, and the Bowling Foundation.
Follow-up note: Since Book's visit to Newcomerstown, the 37-year old did fight his way to that number 36 spot and claim an exemption for the 2009-2010 PBA Season. With a 10th place finish in the second to the last tournament of the season, Book moved into position but says he knew he would still need a solid finish at the 66th Annual U.S. Open to clinch a spot for next year.
"It was unnerving because I did not have the greatest first few days of qualifying at the U.S. Open. I ended up in 101st place after the first cut of the tournament, only one pin from the cut line. I knew I would need to step up my game if I wanted that spot for next year. I drilled up a new ball, the Storm Dimension, and it was just what I needed to match up on the lanes."
Book finished his last day of the tournament by going an astonishing +137 for the remaining nine games on lane conditions that proved to be very difficult, as other bowlers attested. It was good enough to move from 101st to 46th place, allowing him to finish 36th on the points list, paving the way for another season on the pro tour and possibly some more visits to Cy Young Lanes!